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Battle of Saratoga

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Surnames/tags: 1776 American_Revolution
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Battles of Saratoga

Date: September 19 and October 7, 1777
Location: Saratoga County, New York
Result: First battle: Pyrrhic British victory
Second battle: Decisive American victory, British surrender October 17
Belligerents: United States, Great Britain, Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, Hesse Hesse-Hanau


The Battles of Saratoga (Sep 19 and Oct 7, 1777) conclusively decided the fate of British General John Burgoyne's army in the American War of Independence. They're generally regarded as a turning point in the war.

The battles were fought eighteen days apart on the same ground, 9 miles (14 km) south of Saratoga, New York. Burgoyne's campaign to divide New England from the southern colonies started well, but slowed due to logistical problems. He won a small tactical victory over Gen. Horatio Gates and the Continental Army in the September 19 Battle of Freeman's Farm at the cost of significant casualties.

His gains were erased when he again attacked the Americans in the October 7 Battle of Bemis Heights. The Americans captured a portion of the British defenses. So Burgoyne had to retreat, while his army was surrounded by a larger American force at Saratoga, who forced his surrender October 17.

News of Burgoyne's surrender was instrumental in making France an official American ally. Previously the French gave supplies, ammunition and guns ... most notably the de Valliere cannon that played an important role in Saratoga.

Once the French were formally engaged, the war became a global conflict. The battle led Spain to contribute to Americans.

19 Sep: The first battle began when Burgoyne moved some of his troops in an attempt to flank the entrenched American position on Bemis Heights. Benedict Arnold, anticipating the maneuver, placed significant forces in his way. While Burgoyne succeeded in gaining control of Freeman's Farm, it came at the cost of significant casualties. Skirmishing continued in the days following the battle, while Burgoyne waited in the hope that reinforcements would arrive from New York City. Militia forces continued to arrive, swelling the size of the American army. Disputes within the American camp led Gates to strip Arnold of his command.

Concurrently with the first battle, American troops also attacked British positions in the area of Fort Ticonderoga, and bombarded the fort for a few days before withdrawing. British General Sir Henry Clinton, in an attempt to divert American attention from Burgoyne, captured American forts in the Hudson River highlands on October 6, but his efforts were too late to help Burgoyne. Burgoyne attacked Bemis Heights again on October 7 after it became apparent he would not receive relieving aid in time. In heavy fighting, marked by Arnold's spirited rallying of the American troops (in open defiance of orders to stay off the battlefield), Burgoyne's forces were thrown back to the positions they held before the September 19 battle and the Americans captured a portion of the entrenched British defenses. (1)


Commanders and leaders:

Horatio Gates - portrait by Gilbert Stuart
Benedict Arnold
Benjamin Lincoln
Enoch Poor
Ebenezer Learned
Abraham ten Broeck
Daniel Morgan
Strength: 9,000 (first battle), over 12,000 (second battle), over 15,000 (at time of surrender)
Casualties and losses: 90 killed, 240 wounded

Great Britain

Commanders and leaders:

John Burgoyne - portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds, c. 1760
Simon Fraser †
F.A. Riedesel
Strength: 7,200 (first battle), 6,600 (second battle)
Casualties and losses: 440 killed, 695 wounded, 6,222 captured


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Categories: Battle of Saratoga